We’ve all been there: unloading the backpack at the end of the day and throwing away half-eaten sandwiches and mushy bananas.
My son is now eight. He stumbled over words while reading and as a parent it was so hard to keep him from getting discouraged – until I dusted off an old Harry Potter book. Overnight he went from not being ‘allowed’ to read chapter books at school to finishing his first novel – The Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. That’s what interest will do for education! A celebration was in order!
Potion class? Wand instruction? Floating candles? Of course.
For his eighth birthday we invited parents, all of the kids in the class and siblings for a huge Harry Potter birthday party. 26 kids for a sit-down dinner. Gulp. I love to entertain, create and spend oodles of time on the food for parties, but the logistics are always a pain. Whish Party approached me for a colaboration and I explained my idea. Patricia, the owner got just as excited as I was and gave me tons of planning tips. She then shipped me all I would need as basics for the party so that I could focus on the bits that I enjoy the most.
The box from Whish arrived and I squealed. It contained:
– Silver plastic plates, cutlery and glasses. I learned later that all are fine in the dishwasher and will certainly be used again!
– A cake base
– Silver plastic serving utensils
– Corked jars in which to store take-home favours (potion)
– Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans
– Harry Potter napkins (One house on each quarter)
– A stuffed owl puppet with eyes that move
– Black plastic tablecloths
Harry Potter Party Decor
1. The Great Hall. Four long tables (including deck furniture and card tables) were stretched across the living room and covered with the black cloths.
2. Floating Candles. We tied twine to the ‘wicks’ of flameless candles (Whish told me not to use fishing wire as the light would reflect and you would see the wire). I made a loop at the ends of the twine and cut each at a different length. I then wrapped a piece of printer paper around the tea lights, taping it at the beginning and end. Voila! A candle. We used thumbtacks to affix the twine on each each ‘candle’ to our ceiling, alternating them between long and short.
3. Harry Potter References. Pinterest is amazing. I found numerous ideas and whipped up a few signs like ‘The Stairs Change’ at the bottom of the staircase and a photo of Moaning Myrtle underneath the toilet seat.
Harry Potter Party Food
1. I went easy and British! Store-bought meat pies, mashed potatoes, gravy and peas. Healthy and there wasn’t a drop left! (And we’d assumed that because it wasn’t chicken fingers, pizza or mac and cheese they would complain…)
2. We did two drinks: Pumpkin Juice (aka whatever fruit punch was on sale) and Butterbeer.
3. Golden Snitch Cake. With white ostrich feathers from the craft store and golden sparkles.
Harry Potter Party Activities
1. As guests arrived we presented them with a Platform 9 3/4 train ticket. I snagged the idea from The World’s Worst Moms.
2. Using various jars and bottles and Over the Big Moon’s potion labels glued on, we did a Potion Class. For one potion I did the old standby: vinegar and water in one bottle and cornstarch and water in another. I put food colouring in each and the little wizards had to figure out what would happen when we poured the solution into the cauldron.
Whish also supplied me a recipe for slime that’s perfect for a goody bag.
Salazar Slytherin’s Serpent Slime:
1 Tbsp of Elmer’s Clear Glue
2 Tbsp of warm water
Few drops of your choice of food colouring
1/4 tsp. of Borax powder
a. Combine Borax powder with 1 tbsp. of warm water
b. In a separate bowl, mix glue and 1 tbsp. of warm water, then add your desired colour.
c. Slowly add the Borax and water mixture to your glue mixture; thickening the slime.
d. Knead until smooth.
e. Store slime in an airtight container to keep it from escaping!
3. Wand Instruction. You may have a better method, but as the ‘Professor’ I stood on my king-sized bed and made the wizards stand in a line at the foot of the bed. They each had been given a ‘wand’ which was a dark brown chopstick bought in Chinatown. They were instructed to say ‘ridiculis’ and ‘expelliamous’. (Yes, I did several years at acting school but I bet you can find a theatrical friend to run this part of the party!) Each child’s spell made me flail, fall, quack, etc. This could also be done on a trampoline, bed of pillows….
4. Photo Booth. Because we invited adults and siblings there were many older girls who have a penchant for fashion design and photography. We assembled props, including the precious owl that I ordered from Whish, and the three year old in the group was charged with escorting one wizard at a time to the photo area. We did a digital as well as a polaroid snap of each model, and the polaroid was included in the thank you notes.
Harry Potter Party Goody Bags
I don’t believe in elaborate goody bags where most is dollar-store plastic to be thrown away or candy to ruin the rest of a parent’s night after kids have eaten cake and gotten excited with their friends. My true preferences are charity and philanthropy-related, so we donated money to Right to Play on behalf of my son. I did want to send the kids home with something, though. We cut burlap squares and filled them with the Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans and a Soccer Ball (signifying Right to Play). They were each tied with twine and a tiny key. They also went home with their slime in each special jar.
So the parents could deal with a mess on their sofa instead of a sugar high. Ha!
A ton of work, kids that were in awe, and a total turn-key setup that allowed me to focus on what was really important: making memories and paying attention to detail.